By Jacob Vela, Senior Policy Analyst
As districts across the state start planning for next school year they will be faced with some unfamiliar choices as they look to allocate $2.5 billion more in state funding next school year than the current school year. The most recent increase in state education funding was directed mostly to increase K-12 staff salaries, including the more than 50,000 teachers across the state. This was a key part of the court’s ruling as the state has underfunded teacher salaries for many years leaving districts to pick up the tab if they wanted to offer teachers a competitive salary.
As districts plan for how the influx of money will be spent in the face of the shifting funding landscape districts and community members will have some difficult questions to consider:
- Does the state provide enough for all districts to attract and retain teachers, especially for high-poverty or rural districts?
- How will the increased investments impact how districts use their local levy dollars?
- How will the educational experience of students be positively impacted with the new investments?
- Will district budgets be financially sustainable?
By Julia Warth, Assistant Director of Policy and Government Relations
The recent investments and changes made to the K-12 funding system in response to the Washington State Supreme Court McCleary ruling will have long-lasting impacts on our education system. While progress has been made to adequately fund basic education, more work remains to ensure that we equitably fund basic education. League of Education Voters is committed to working with districts and partners to continue to move towards an education system that is funded to provide every student what they need to succeed.
We will be providing a number of resources and series of analyses that will highlight some of the remaining opportunities and work ahead looking towards the 2021 legislative session. These include:
- A series of maps that illustrate the impact of House Bill 2242 (2017 legislative session) and Senate Bill 6362 (2018 legislative session) across the state, and the inequities that remain;
- A brief on the choices facing districts and the new investments in teacher salaries;
- An analysis of the continued challenges in special education funding in preparation for the 2019 session; and
- A broader analysis of the impact of HB 2242 and SB 6362 and solutions to explore to address challenges created by regionalization factor and the two-tiered local levy structure, and how we can better target resources to students who have been systemically and historically underserved.
As mentioned in Part One, to help direct our work with our community to create positive change in Washington’s education system, we sent out a survey via email and social media channels in May to learn how Washington community members would like state education funding prioritized. We thank the 737 people, from 71 school districts across the state, who submitted responses.
Our survey first offered respondents an opportunity to rank 16 pre-established funding priorities to make the most difference for students [view results in Part One]. Then respondents had the opportunity to write in other priorities. Over 58% of the respondents added further priorities. (more…)
League of Education Voters appreciates all the work done by the state to satisfy the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision on school funding. While this case appears to be over, the fight continues to create and fund a system that drives resources first to our students who need the most support.
By Angela Parker, League of Education Voters Policy Analyst
When an educator earns a superintendent position, they know their job description does not just put them between a rock and a hard place – they will be between a rock, a hard place, and a fire. They hold responsibility for the current education and future educational prospects of the children in their school district. Simultaneously, parents, community members, and their staff expect their leadership in translating and implementing statewide directives and policy changes. And, of course, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) holds them accountable to agency and legislative directives and outcomes goals.
This is why most superintendents develop a refined skill set – the ability to collaborate with a wide range of community and education leaders, the passion to advocate for their students and communities on the state level, deep and broad engagement with education research, an engaging and thoughtful political persona, and long term project management and planning abilities. This is also why we knew we needed to gather as much feedback as possible from superintendents across the state, particularly on their understandings of current and emergent issues in our K-12 schools.
We sent a survey request in November 2017 to 295 superintendents in Washington; 57 (19%) returned our survey, giving these results an 80% confidence level with an 8% margin of error. Our survey over-represents districts with 500 to 4,999 students, and under-represents districts of 499 students and less. Respondents hail from all areas of the state, but disproportionately represent rural districts.
Aside from demographic details, our survey was limited to three main questions:
- How urgent are issues such as achievement/opportunity gaps, student supports, teacher supply, college readiness, etc., in your district?
- Is your district experiencing new or different educational issues?
- What should we work on in the next legislative session?
This post summarizes our broad findings from the survey, and we commit to working on these issues with superintendents and educators across Washington.
By Daniel Zavala, League of Education Voters Director of Policy and Government Relations
Remember that time last year when I went over everything “You Need to Know about the McCleary School Funding Agreement?” Well, it’s time for a refresh. The 2018 legislative session was all about McCleary 2.0, or what we can call, what to do when the Supreme Court says you’re still not quite there yet.
Many of us were expecting a quiet session where little would be addressed in education due to budget constraints. Two major events occurred: The Supreme Court’s November Order saying the legislature was still out of compliance and a Revenue Forecast that far exceeded most predictions regarding unanticipated future revenue collections. The end result: Another year of legislators in the 11th hour hanging ornaments (i.e. piecemeal policies) on an omnibus policy tree (i.e. Senate Bill 6362) that likely created more questions than answers. My prediction: we will be back next year sweeping up the broken ornaments. And while we may fixate on the 11th hour scrambling, it is important to reflect on the successes we saw this year in expanded eligibility with early learning and college financial aid, increased funds for special education and the State Need Grant, and raised awareness of social emotional and mental health needs.
By Kelly Munn, League of Education Voters State Field Director, and Jacob Vela, League of Education Voters Senior Policy Analyst
Last month, communities across Washington state voted on local levies to continue funding for enrichment programs and capital projects at district schools. Here are the election results and my analysis.
154 out of the 295 school districts in Washington state ran an Enrichment levy, and 150 passed. 42 levies passed because of simple majority, which is a 50-59.9% yes vote. Those districts that passed in the 50-55% range were mostly in the Puget Sound area.
24 school districts ran a bond, and 11 passed. 11 of the failed bonds would have passed with simple majority for bonds. Bonds currently pass only with a yes vote of 60% or greater.
60 school districts ran capital levies, and 51 passed.
6 school districts ran transportation levies, and 5 passed.
150 school districts passed an Enrichment levy. It does not yet appear that the confusion around the new McCleary funding is effecting the overall passage rate across the state. 150 out of 154 school districts passed. Superintendent Jim Kowalkowski explains what passage of the levy means for his Davenport School District: “We are excited that many of the programs we offer for students (College in the High School, Satellite Skills Center, Knowledge Bowl, All-day Preschool, Project Lead the Way (STEM) courses, Choir and Drama Programs, etc., will continue to be a part of our educational offerings. We are so grateful to have such a supportive community!” (more…)